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  • Publisher: Search Press
  • Edition: BC Paperback Flexibind
  • Publication: 12 February 2018
  • ISBN 13/EAN: 9781782215615
  • Stock: 50+
  • Size: 216x280 mm
  • Illustrations: 430
  • Pages: 128
  • RRP: £12.99
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The Watercolour Enigma


A complete painting course revealing the secrets and science of watercolour by Stephen Coates

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Book Description

Many watercolour artists are disappointed with the results of their endeavours because their attempts at painting do not always turn out as intended. However, the majority of mistakes are caused by the incorrect use of paint rather than artistic inability.

The Watercolour Enigma is based on a practical course by artist Stephen Coates, and is designed to take the student through a process of learning rarely seen in other practical art books. By examining the basic science of watercolour including the properties of water and colour pigment, and through a series of practical, straightforward, step-by-step painting exercises, budding painters will leave Stephen’s book not only with a mine of watercolour knowledge but with a selection of stunning paintings they can proudly say are their own.

Understanding the medium and how to use it will turn potential failure into success, and discovering the truth about how to use watercolours is exciting, liberating and enormously rewarding. So fulfil your dream and, with Stephen's guidance, learn to paint like a true, watercolour expert.

Table of Contents

The science of the medium
What you will need
Initial exercises & paintings
- Exercise One: Feeling the fluidity
- Exercise Two: Learning to blend in squares & circles
- Exercise Three: Pebbles on the sand
- Exercise Four: Across the bay
- Exercise Five: Red sail reflections
Understanding colour & mixing
Final paintings
- Exercise Six: Lake in the snow
- Exercise Seven: Peak district walk

About the Author

About Stephen Coates

Stephen Coates was born in Sheffield in 1960. The son of a draughtsman, he was introduced to drawing at a very young age. He excelled in art at school but chose a career in retail, working first in the music industry for 16 years followed by another 16 years running his own catering business.

Over a period of 20 years, Stephen learned and specialized in watercolours in his spare time, and gradually developed his own style and unique brand of teaching. In 2011 he traded his sandwich business for a career in art and teaching. He became a full-time professional freelance artist, and set up his own studio in Sheffield with the purpose of teaching others watercolour painting. From here he runs courses, workshops and hosts his own amateur art groups. Stephen also demonstrates his skills and shares his expertise at art societies all over England, and exhibits at a variety of national art shows. Visit his website www.coatesart.co.uk.


Parka Blogs

The first edition of this book is called The Watercolour Enigma : Science of the Medium and was published in 2014 by Arc Publishing and Print. This edition that I'm reviewing is the 2018 edition published by Search Press.

The author and artist Stephen Coates is a self taught full-time watercolour artist and instructor. He spent 16 years working in the music industry followed by another 16 years in his catering business before switching to making art. He's a great example that you can definitely teach yourself art and you learn to make art regardless of your age.

The Watercolour Enigma is a beginner's guide to painting with watercolour. It covers the basics such as the tools you need, colour mixing, techniques along with step by step instructions and pictures that are easy to follow along. The examples are simple and not complicated so they can be easily replicated by any beginner. The basic techniques are shown and explained in a way that's easy to understand.

This is an accessible watercolour instructional book that I can recommend easily to anyone who's starting out with watercolour.

The Artist

Summer 2018

This intriguing book explains the basic science behind the way watercolour behaves. Stephen Coates is an artist first and foremost. What he has produced is as practical as any other painting manual - and as easy to follow as the best of them. Watercolour can be a tricky and unpredictable medium and many tutors will extol the the benefits of 'happy accidents'. Stephens approach is to understand and explain why effects such as granulation, blending and hard edges occur and how to control when they appear. This involves an understanding of the properties of water and paint and the behaviour of the brushes. You would be forgiven for not noticing the science because the book is constructed around a conventional series of exercises and demonstrations that show you things happening, rather than telling you about them.


The science of watercolour is intriguing but, if the very idea makes your eyes glaze over, prepare to be intrigued. This bills itself as a complete course revealing the secrets and science of watercolour and, it oozes practicality on every page.

Stephen quite rightly understands that a watercolourists only interest in the physical properties of their medium relates to what it can do for them and how they can exploit and control its behaviour. To this end, he explains the properties of water, how and why washes blend and the ways in which different pigments mix. The whole process is constructed as a series of exercises and demonstrations that show you whats happening rather than simply telling you, although there are also panels that explain the technicalities in simple terms.

If you want to get the most out of your medium, this is a fascinating and absorbing look under the hood.

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